Page last updated at 05:47 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 06:47 UK

Princes attend forces spectacle

RAF Chinook helicopters
RAF Chinook helicopters flew over St Paul's Cathedral

Princes William and Harry have joined crowds at an open-air pageant to raise money for injured servicemen and women.

The City Salute, outside London's St Paul's Cathedral, involved fly-pasts, navy bands and ceremonial troops.

Host Jeremy Clarkson joked about Prince William's recent helicopter flights - one to an Isle of Wight stag party and one to his girlfriend's family home.

Event organisers are raising funds for a swimming pool at Headley Court, the armed forces' rehabilitation centre.

Ministers have already pledged an extra 24m to improve facilities at the centre, near Leatherhead, Surrey.

It [a Chinook] is a bit of a lumbering tank - not exactly hard to miss. You can't even land one on the Isle of Wight without the newspapers finding out
Host Jeremy Clarkson

During the event, which was held in aid of the City Salute Appeal, of which the princes are patrons and which aims to help Headley Court expand its facilities, the princes spoke to injured service personnel and stood among them to watch the spectacle.

It began with the roar of three Eurofighter Typhoon jets as they flew past in the evening sunshine.

Actor Ross Kemp went on to pay tribute to the dedication of British troops and there was a second fly-past conducted by two Chinook helicopters, before march pasts by the three services.

'In trouble'

Top Gear presenter Mr Clarkson went on to joke about Prince William's two controversial helicopter flights and emphasised the "vital role" helicopters and their pilots played in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It takes a special kind of courage to fly one of those things, I think, into a firefight.

Princes William and Harry meeting injured servicemen

"It's a bit of a lumbering tank - not exactly hard to miss. You can't even land one on the Isle of Wight without the newspapers finding out."

"Sorry. I'll be in trouble," he added.

Harry and William both laughed at the comments.

Last month, the princes met patients at Headley Court, the Defence Medical Services Rehabilitation Centre, which looks after 180 patients and cares for those injured in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two forces charities, Help for Heroes and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), will benefit from the City Salute event.

Help for Heroes is planning to build a swimming pool and gym complex at Headley Court, and SSAFA will set up and run homes for the families of injured personnel at both Headley Court and another centre near Birmingham.

Diane Dernie, whose son Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson was severely wounded in Afghanistan, has accused the government of "playing catch-up" by giving extra funding to Headley Court long after the conflicts began.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific